Congress approves martial law extension to target NPA and ‘supporters’

By Baretang Bikolnon Staff

Congress approves President Rodrigo Duterte’s extension of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for a full year that will target the New People’s Army (NPA) along with other armed groups.
During a joint session in the Congress today, 240 lawmakers voted to extend martial law until December 31, 2018 while 27 rejected the proposal. The Senate voted 14-4 while the House voted 226-23.

Duterte requested the extension based on National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recommendations submitted to him last December 4 “to ensure the total eradication of DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Terrorist Groups (ALGs) and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.”

In his original Proclamation No. 216 declarating a three-month martial law in Mindanao at the outbreak of the Marawi City crisis last May 23, Duterte did not include the NPA as among the targets.

In the 150-day extension approved by 245 lawmakers last July 22, however, Lorenzana already identified the NPA as among the targets, accusing the revolutionary group as “taking advantage of the situation.”

Duterte accused the NPA of perpetrating 385 so-called atrocitied that killed 41 and wounding 62 government troopers in 2017, as well as 59 arson incidents that targeted businesses such as mining and plantations.

“As a direct result of these atrocities on the part of the NPA, I was constrained to issue Proclamation No. 360 on 23 November 2017 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) effective immediately,” Duterte wrote.

“I followed this up with Proclamation no. 374 on 05 December 2017, where I declared the CPP-NPA as a designated/identified terrorist organization under the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, and the issuance of a directive to the Secretary of Justice to file a petition in the appropriate court praying to proscribe the NDF-CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization under the Human Security Act of 2007,” he added.

These recent developments involving the NDF-CPP-NPA forebode another year of intensified armed hostilities which continue to make Mindanao the hotbed of rebellion, Duterte wrote.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo last December 8 promised there would be no martial law abuses should it be extended.

Aravelo added martial law does not target any particular group.

According to lawmakers who opposed the extension, extending the already extended martial law has no basis in the 1987 Constitution and can lead to more human rights violations in Mindanao.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned that the extension of martial law in Mindanao may be a prelude to a nationwide declaration as the NPA has presence nationwide.

“If we were to believe that the government is intent on ending the war against the NPA, which operates not only in Mindanao but all over the country, then it is entirely possible that their operations would have to be extended beyond Mindanao to meet that objective,” said Drilon.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. earlier said the government is expecting more intensified attacks by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), whom the President recently tagged as terrorists.

“[T]he act of rebellion is a continuing crime. So for as long as… they don’t lay down their grounds, they are committing a criminal act… we need to ensure that they no longer present a threat that all acts of rebellion emanating from them had ceased,” he said.

However, Senator Francis Pangilinan who also opposed the extension said that there is no need to extend martial law as there is no actual rebellion.

According to Roque, Malacañang welcomed the approval of the extension asking the public to stand behind the Administration to quell the continuing rebellion in Mindanao; eradicate the DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM) and other like-minded local/ foreign terrorist groups and armed lawless groups, and the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters and financiers; and ensure the unhampered rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi and the lives of its residents. ( from Philstar)

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